An Open Letter to The Internet
a new title might evolve as I write, but for now, I'll offer this rant as an address to the Internet, its users, followers, criticizers, and victims.
As I post this, I'm hoping to follow my guidelines for blog topics, which is that blog posts should fall under at least one of three categories: aspirational, inspirational, or informational. I hope you find this as useful in seeing the truth behind the posts, the photos, etc. and move forward with this information (and ventilation). (...fingers crossed that's the noun form of 'venting')
Posts should be INSPIRATIONAL, ASPIRATIONAL, or INFORMATIONAL. If you've taken it upon yourself to hold the title of "blogger," "influencer," or the like, you are posting for the benefit of others. You aren't posting for praise or gratification, you are posting because you have something to say, something to share, a VOICE. It doesn't have to be profound, or even novel, but it should be original and honest. Your voice can be your sense of style, how you decorate your home, how you navigate parenthood. It can be as simple as "I'm human, this is me."
INSPIRATION comes in the most humble of forms. For me, if I see someone post that they WENT to the gym, I'm inspired to do the same. I don't care how their workout went, or what their body looks like, I'm just inspired to get off my couch and at least do as much as the next person.
ASPIRATION is when I see someone's beautiful, designed, (expensive I'm sure) home - decorated with fresh flowers, antique rugs, and custom cabinets - and I think, "one day" but until then, I can at least clean my apartment, put on lovely music, buy some Trader Joe's flowers, and light some candles.
INFORMATION is pretty explanatory, yet severely lacking in most of what is going on social-medially.
So there's #1
Copying versus being inspired.
This touches again on originality.
I'll keep this pretty simple since it seems to be misunderstood quite often.
It is totally normal - and in my opinion a wonderful part about sharing so much on the internet - to see someone doing something and want to emulate the same. I love seeing images that "make me feel some sort of way" (how my intern put it that I could never say it better myself). I love being drawn into a scene and seeing more than the photo is giving me. I see things in a new light and want to create that same mood or feeling in my photos. Pinterest comes to mind in these examples - this photo especially:
This image always speaks to me - there is a fun story about who she is, and where she's going. Her clothes influence the way I dress, and the scene makes me want to pack a picnic and wear Madewell every weekend.
BUT I would NEVER have a model or blogger wear white jeans + blue button down + hat + berkenstocks and be getting a picnic basket out of whatever Jeep/Bronco/SUV for the sake of recreating this image.
It DOES make me want to raid Madewell and go on a photogenic picnic adventure myself - which is great because I'm pretty sure this was an ad.
So emulating the same mood, feel, tone, etc. - great. You learn as you go and you'll see things the more you practice and you'll be able to create scenes without reference photos.
Wearing the same thing at the same location posed the same way as someone else - NOPE.
View with caution. We all know the internet is mostly a funnel where only the most glamorous, well-lit, best-dressed gets through. I do it too - of course I'm going to post Instagram stories of myself right after I do my hair, why wouldn't I? (Not that I have to, but again, why wouldn't I?)
Still, I hear all the time about people believing that what they see is what's really happening. I take this notion pretty seriously as it's my job as a photographer to make things look good, but I always keep honesty in there. That's where "LIFE. STYLED." comes from. I really do try to keep my office clean, exercise (...moderately...), visit beautiful places, etc. I like having a photogenic life. I don't wipe off one corner of my desk just for the sake of a photo; I'd rather set a timer for 7 minutes, clean the room, and then photograph it.
Hopefully other people do the same, but they don't. Not everyone at least. And if you find yourself COMPARING and thinking "she dresses like this all the time, what am I doing with my life wearing yoga pants to the mall"... another NOPE. It would be wonderful to think "that's such a cute outfit, that makes me want to spruce up and put on something cute to run errands" OR "that's nice that's her job to look good in the photos she posts. These leggings are really comfortable and hide the salsa I just spilled on myself" (another truth: life isn't ALWAYS "LIFE. STYLED.")
Just realize the more and more people post, the more and more manufactured these images become. I am paid to photograph up to 6 outfits at a time for bloggers to post throughout the week. It does create a wonderful image that they are out and about looking great. (Every client I can think of really does dress cute, and care very much about the content of their blog) But the point is that OBVIOUSLY these images only show the best of the best. Please don't compare yourself. Find the nugget of inspiration, aspiration, or information and move on. And if you aren't getting those things, don't pay attention and get on with your own beautiful life.
I'll wrap it up after this - it's been four days of writing this post and I forgot the rest of the points I was going to touch on.
Just because everyone else seems to be doing something doesn't mean you have to. Be original. Be inspired. Be fresh. Be real. People like that and people like engaging with the truths behind the post.